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Appalachian Regional Commission grant, Leadership Institute addressing needs in Alabama

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is providing a workforce development grant to Alabama and has named two Alabamians to its inaugural Appalachian Leadership Council.

Gov. Kay Ivey has announced a $280,000 ARC grant to help Jefferson State Community College construct a 5,026-square-foot facility at its Shelby-Hoover campus. The facility will allow for the expansion of the school’s welding technology program to meet the demand for welders throughout Alabama, particularly in the state’s growing automobile manufacturing industry.

“Alabama’s robust economy is calling for skilled workers, particularly in the welding profession,” Ivey said. “I am thankful that Jefferson State Community College is helping us meet our workforce demand, and I am particularly grateful to the Appalachian Regional Commission for being a strong partner in helping Alabama to grow and prosper.”

The new facility will house a welding shop, lab and classroom and is expected to train students from Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Chilton counties.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is administering the grant.

“ADECA shares Gov. Ivey’s vision of helping Alabama produce a capable workforce to meet the demands in our state’s growing economy,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “Gov. Ivey is also keenly aware that for anything to be successful you need willing partners, and Jefferson State Community College and the Appalachian Regional Commission both meet that criteria.”

The grant comes just a few weeks after ARC announced the formation of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, which aims to create a network of graduates focused on advancing the region.

“Our hope is that the Appalachian Leadership Institute will help develop leadership and problem-solving, bring advancement, and grow greater prosperity in the region,” Tim Thomas, ARC federal co-chairman said at the time. “Leadership is the essential foundation on which all of our collective efforts to enhance Appalachia rest.”

Two Alabamians are among the inaugural class of the Leadership Institute.

Bevin Tomlin, Community Development manager with Alabama Power’s Economic & Community Development organization, and Lisa Bright, founder and CEO of the Will Bright Foundation, which operates Restoration Springs in Fayette, are in the inaugural class.

“By providing grants like this and forming the Appalachian Leadership Institute, the Appalachian Regional Commission continues to show a commitment to addressing the current and future needs of Alabama and its neighbors,” Tomlin said. “I am honored to serve as part of the inaugural class of the Leadership Institute as we continue to identify and address the real needs of the region.”

The Leadership Institute will provide members with an extensive nine-month program of skill-building seminars, best-practice reviews, field visits, mentoring and networking.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments. Thirty-seven Alabama counties, including Shelby County, are part of the ARC region and eligible for funds.

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

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